SCRANTON — Members of the Scranton Police Department Friday unveiled the newest tool in their arsenal: a Segway i2 SE Patroller.
The cost of $7,500 for the vehicle, training and delivery, was covered through drug forfeiture funds, according to Police Chief Carl Graziano.
The two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery powered electric vehicle will be used by Officer Joseph Janczak on the city’s downtown beat during peak hours, patrolling Lackawanna Avenue to Olive Street and Mifflin Avenue to Jefferson Avenue.
The Segway, Graziano said, will fill a void and increase public communication with the department.
“It makes our patrol more efficient in the downtown area,” Graziano said. “We just started a new downtown beat, which hasn’t been in effect for several years. He can cover more ground and talk to the public more readily. It becomes a conversation piece.”
Graziano added the new vehicle will serve multiple purposes in the city of Scranton, including use at special events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“This particular model can be brought into buildings and parking garages,” he said. “It goes up to 12.5 mph so the officer can get to places pretty quickly and without fatigue. It becomes another tool in the department. It raises you off the ground so you can see over a crowd of people. Anywhere we can walk, the Segway can go.”
Other officers have been trained, but the Segway is specifically assigned for the downtown beat and special events.
“When we have large crowds and gatherings it will be put into operation, but it will be used primarily by the downtown beat officer, weather permitting,” Graziano said.
“It’s part of the promise we made to the downtown business community that we’re going to have a bigger presence,” Graziano said. “This is an additional officer who is going to be combined with public surveillance cameras that will be installed in the downtown over the next few months. It’s our commitment to the business community that we’re a partner with them and want to make sure people feel comfortable coming downtown.”
Janczak, who has been an officer in the Scranton Police Department for two years, is hopeful the Segway will be an additional asset to the patrol.
“It’s yet to be seen,” he said. “A bike, a segway… everything works just as well. It’s just another tool for our tool box.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.